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Adoption agencies can deny gay couples after Tennessee governor officially signs bill into law

Josh Milton January 26, 2020
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Adoption agencies in Tennessee can now legally refuse LGBT+ couples (Envato Elements)

Despite the number of children in foster care furiously rising, the governor of Tennessee, US, just signed a bill into law that allows religious adoption agencies to deny service to queer couples.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, on any given day, around 437,000 children are living in the foster care system. And the numbers are surging at a dizzying rate.

Despite this, governor Bill Lee signed the controversial measure Friday that enshrines adoption agencies the right to discriminate against same-sex couples. His office cited “religious liberty” as justification to make it law.

Anti-LGBT adoption agencies now allowed to discriminate same-sex families.

Throughout the bill’s journey, LGBT+ groups and the American Civil Liberties Union have urged the lawmaker not to sign the legislation.

The law allows adoption agencies to refuse to participate in child placement if doing so would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”

Some faith-based agencies in Tennessee already do not allow gay couples to adopt, but this move provides legal protections to those agencies, as well as ensuring government funding.

Pride Parade is seen during the 2019 Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. (FilmMagic/FilmMagic for Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival )
Pride Parade is seen during the 2019 Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. (FilmMagic/FilmMagic for Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival )

“The governor believes that protection of rights is important, especially religious liberty,” Lee spokesperson Gillum Ferguson said, according to USA Today.

“This bill is centered around protecting the religious liberty of Tennesseans and that’s why he signed it.”

The measure was first passed by the Republican-controlled senate in April last year, and on January 14, Tennessee governor Bill Lee announced that he would be signing the bill into law, ignoring the many warnings of the possible negative consequences for the state’s reputation.

Before the Senate vote, Lee reportedly said he had not even read the two-page bill.

Tennessee is now one of several other states to have enacted similar legislation against LGBT+ couples, including Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, Virginia and Michigan.

Related topics: family, Tennessee

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